The Aphasiology Archive
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Priming auditory comprehension in aphasia: Facilitation and interference effects

Wright, Heather Harris and Newhoff, Marilyn
Priming auditory comprehension in aphasia: Facilitation and interference effects. Aphasiology, 18(5-7), 2004, pages 555-565.


Background: Researchers have shown that adults with aphasia often demonstrate better comprehension for discourse than for single sentences. Investigations have included presenting preceding linguistic context to facilitate comprehension of target sentences in adults with aphasia. Priming paradigms have also been used to investigate sentence and discourse processing in adults with aphasia. In priming studies, significantly faster reaction times to related lexical probes compared to unrelated probes indicate the information activated during processing. However, the possible influence of the lexical probe on participants' comprehension of target sentences is unknown. It has been suggested that linguistic context provides redundant information that may allow the limited processing resources available to adults with aphasia to be adequately distributed to meet task demands; possibly, a related lexical probe, as opposed to other probe types, serves a similar purpose.

Aims: The objective of the current study was to examine the influence of related, incorrect, and neutral lexical probes on comprehension of sentence pairs by participants with aphasia and neurologically intact participants (NI).

Methods & Procedures: A total of 40 adults (20 presented with aphasia, 20 NI) participated in a cross-modal task. Stimuli were sentence pairs that required revision of the interpretation of the first sentence for adequate comprehension to occur. Participants listened to sentence pairs and completed a lexical decision task following each sentence pair. Lexical decisions consisted of target words that represented either the intended (revised) interpretation, initial (incorrect) interpretation, a neutral word (unrelated to the sentence pair's meaning), or a nonword. Following each sentence pair, participants answered four yes/no questions pertaining to the respective sentence pair.

Outcomes & Results: Results indicated that adults with aphasia and NI participants answered correctly significantly more questions when the lexical probe represented the intended interpretation of the sentence pair as compared to the baseline condition (neutral word). Also, participants missed significantly more questions when the lexical probe represented the initial (incorrect) interpretation as compared to the baseline.

Conclusions: Results of the study indicated that the type of probe presented influenced participants' comprehension of the sentence pairs. It is suggested that the presence of the inference revision target probe allowed participants to overcome limitations in working memory capacity or processing resources available to complete the task. Additionally, the initial inference target probe overextended participants' working memory capacity limits or available processing resources; thus, they did not perform as well during this condition.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
ID Code:1498
Conference:Clinical Aphasiology Conference: Clinical Aphasiology Conference (2003 : 33rd : Orcas Island, WA : May 2003)
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
Alternative Locations:,,
Additional Information:Access to Full Text is subject to the Publisher's access restrictions.